On the Internet as a record of our work (#SFWApro)

A week ago, the Raleigh Public Record website shut down. It was there on Monday when I checked the date of a couple of my old stories; by Friday it was a You Can Own This Domain Name Site. I presume that means the paper’s folded, though there’s nothing about it on their FB page (but all the links are to the dead site).

I think that’s a shame. It was a good paper, and I did some good stories for it, though not in a few years. But my point is not to mourn its passing but to point out, if you don’t already know, that we can’t rely on the Internet to preserve our work.

The Internet is an amazing library of news and information and and astonishing amount of stuff has been recorded online. But there’s no guarantee that a specific thing we want to keep — i.e., our articles, our fiction — will continue to exist. With Raleigh Public Record gone, so are the eight or nine stories I wrote for them. Fortunately, I already have them downloaded. I’m really glad — my stories on problems at Butner federal prison and on moving a Colonial era house out of the way of new development were both outstanding, if I do say so.

The Destin Log is still around, but none of my old stories are online since they switched to a new owner (I’m not sure we kept everything online even before that). That one hurts more because while I have copies of some of my best stories, there’s a lot I didn’t keep. And I don’t have digital copies because Freedom Newspaper used a different program (for ease of editing) and translating everything would have been too much work. Plus I didn’t at the time see the need to.

That’s why I also archived all my And columns on my laptop. The site is still up even though I’m no longer writing for it (first they told me to rewrite one piece to make it less anti-Trump. Then my next two columns, which carefully avoided any Trump references, never appeared, nor did I get an explanation. But I take a certain pride in my old columns taking up a lot of space on their front page). But if it ever goes, I’ve got my stuff.

Several magazines that published my fiction have closed too. But I have all that work as well.

Of course a fire or a hurricane could wipe out everything I’ve preserved. But at least the Internet can’t.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “On the Internet as a record of our work (#SFWApro)

  1. Zosimus the Heathen

    I feel your pain. Although people like to say, “The Internet never forgets”, I’ve found that it far too often does when *I’m* looking for something I remember once seeing online (and which I foolishly never saved a copy of when I had the chance). 😦

    I’ve had some experiences similar to yours. For nearly twenty years, I wrote little articles for one of my local street magazines (mainly music-related stuff), which came out fortnightly in a paper version, and later put its content online as well. Thankfully, I scrapbooked nearly every article I ever had printed because the magazine eventually died (and when it did, the one guy left running it didn’t even have the decency to tell the writers it was all over, though that’s a rant for another time). Its demise ended up being a rather protracted and painful affair – first the paper version started looking increasingly anorexic with each new issue, then there were fortnights it didn’t come out at all. While the online version was updated more regularly, its quality started to decline as well – links to current articles would go to old articles instead, while a fortnightly gig guide ended up becoming *years* out of date. Although all the old issues were supposedly archived, attempting to access any of them would just get you a stupid error message: something I discovered to my chagrin when a blogger I became quite friendly with, upon learning I was a writer, asked me for some examples of my work, and I tried sending her links to some of my published stuff. Yeah, I’m still a bit bitter about it all.

  2. Yes, I hate not being able to link to stuff I’ve done.
    Even current websites have archiving problems — every time there’s a major overhaul links go all hinky. Gets frustrating when I try to look up articles I want to reread.

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